Authors: E. T. A. Hoffmann

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

German short-story writer, novelist, and composer

Author Works

Short Fiction:

Fantasiestücke in Callots Manier, 1814-1815 (Fantasy Pieces in Callot’s Manner, 1996)

Nachtstücke, 1817

Klein Zaches, Genannt Zinnober, 1819 (Little Zaches, Surnamed Zinnober, 1971)

Die Serapionsbrüder, 1819-1821 (4 volumes; The Serapion Brethren, 1886-1892)

Prinzessin Brambilla: Ein Capriccio nach Jakob Callot, 1821 (Princess Brambilla: A “Capriccio” in the Style of Jacques Callot, 1971)

Meister Floh: Ein Märchen in sieben Abenteuern zweier Freunde, 1822 (Master Flea: A Fairy Tale in Seven Adventures of Two Friends, 1826)

Four Tales, 1962

The Best Tales of Hoffmann, 1967

Selected Writings of E. T. A. Hoffmann, 1969 (2 volumes)

The Golden Pot, and Other Tales, 1992

Long Fiction:

Die Elixiere des Teufels: Nachgelassene Papiere des Bruders Medardus, eines Kapuziners, 1815-1816 (The Devil’s Elixirs: From the Posthumous Papers of Brother Medardus, a Capuchin Friar, 1824)

Lebensansichten des Katers Murr, nebst fragmentarischer Biographie des Kapellmeisters Johannes Kreisler in zufälligen Makulaturblättern, 1819-1821 (The Life and Opinions of Kater Murr, with the Fragmentary Biography of Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler on Random Sheets of Scrap Paper, 1969; also known as The Educated Cat)


Briefwechsel, 1967-1969 (3 volumes; correspondence)

Tagebücher, 1971 (4 volumes; diaries)

Selected Letters, 1977

Musical Compositions:

Liebe und Eifersucht: Oper, 1807

Trois Canzonettes, 1808

Arlequinn: Ballett, 1811

Undine, 1816

Musikalische Werke, 1922-1927


Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann (HAWF-mahn) assumed his pen name, E. T. A. Hoffmann, in which the A stands for Amadeus, out of admiration for the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Hoffmann was at one time probably the most influential German author both in his own country and elsewhere; Heinrich Heine, Gottfried Keller, Theodor Storm, Théophile Gautier, Honoré de Balzac, Alfred de Musset, and Edgar Allan Poe were all indebted to him, and Jacques Offenbach wrote an opera based on his tales. An instigator of the Romantic movement, Hoffmann led the way toward an incorporation of fantasy as an ingredient of everyday life, by introducing not only supernatural events but also abnormal states of mind into otherwise realistic depictions.{$I[AN]9810001426}{$I[A]Hoffmann, E. T. A.}{$I[geo]GERMANY;Hoffmann, E. T. A.}{$I[tim]1776;Hoffmann, E. T. A.}

E. T. A. Hoffman

(Library of Congress)

Hoffmann, a diligent government official in the Prussian judiciary for most of his life, turned his artistic attention first to becoming a theater director and composer; the opera Undine survives as his most important musical work. Also a successful illustrator and caricaturist, he did not fully embark on a literary career until after the appearance in 1814 of the first tales that would make up Fantasy Pieces in Callot’s Manner, when he was already thirty-eight years old. These stories were followed by a story of temptation and sin, The Devil’s Elixirs, in 1815-1816. In The Serapion Brethren, he collected previously published tales and framed them with commentary by members of a literary club such as the one he had formed in Berlin. The Life and Opinions of Kater Murr was a veiled self-depiction cast in the form of a double novel about a romantic composer and a literary tomcat. In his most effective stories Hoffmann wrote of the region between fact and belief, using ghosts, clairvoyants, hypnotism, and psychological abnormality to turn the plot. He continues to be regarded as a foremost master of the fantastic tale.

BibliographyAllen, Richard. “Reading Kleist and Hoffmann.” In Romantic Writing, edited by Stephen Bygrave. London: Routledge, 1996. Discusses alienation, the Freudian notion of the uncanny, the relationship between love and death, and the sense of strangeness in Hoffmann’s “The Sandman.”Bergström, Stefan. Between Real and Unreal: A Thematic Study of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s “Die Serapionsbrüder.” New York: Peter Lang, 1999. A critical study. Includes bibliographical references.Daemmrich, Horst S. The Shattered Self: E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Tragic Vision. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1973. An important study of the literary work of Hoffmann. After his introduction, which places Hoffmann in historical context and outlines critical appraisals of his work, Daemmrich analyzes Hoffmann’s major themes and motifs. He sees a “dynamic structural pattern” as a basis for humans’ search for identity and finds in Hoffmann’s work a portrayal of “the disintegration of the individual in a world uncontrolled forces.” Contains extensive notes to individual chapters, a bibliography, and an index.Hewett-Thayer, Harvey W. Hoffmann: Author of the Tales. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1938. A comprehensive biography of Hoffmann and a discussion of his works. The footnotes are very informative, containing comments and suggestions for further reading, as well as the original German for many passages when these appear in English translation in the main text. Includes very readable story analyses, often with a summary of the story line. Supplemented by a listing of Hoffmann’s literary works with dates of publication, a bibliography, and an index of names and works. Intended as an introduction for both the student and the general reader.Kohlenbach, Margarete. “Women and Artists: E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Implicit Critique of Early Romanticism.” The Modern Language Review 89 (July, 1994): 659-673. Notes the psychic limitation and misogynistic implications in several of Hoffmann’s narratives; examines “Der Sandmann” to determine the importance of the text’s ambiguity with respect to the Romantic discourse on femininity.Kropf, David Gleen. Authorship as Alchemy: Subversive Writing in Pushkin, Scott, Hoffmann. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1994. Discusses the story “Das Fräulein von Schdern” in terms of how it reveals different ways in which authorship puts pressure on the creative process and undermines the workings of authorship.Lazare, Christopher, ed. Introduction and biographic note to Tales of Hoffmann. New York: Grove Press, 1946. The introduction contains helpful comments on Hoffmann’s importance in nineteenth century European literature, and the biographical note is an informative essay, giving the general reader details of Hoffmann’s biography along with some insights into his attitudes and way of viewing life. The main body of the book contains modern English translations of ten of his most important stories.McGlathery, James M. E. T. A. Hoffmann. New York: Twayne, 1997. A critical introduction to Hoffmann’s life and work, focusing on critical reception to his work, his own critical writings, and analysis of his major works of fiction. Includes discussions of “The Sandman” and “Ritter Gluck,” as well as several lesser-known stories and Hoffmann’s fairy tales.Negus, Kenneth. E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Other World: The Romantic Author and His “New Mythology.” Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1965. A very readable and useful monography, focusing on Hoffmann’s development of a coherent body of myth in his fantasy world–a “new mythology” founded on an inner spiritual (or psychological) world but extending to form a “cosmic myth.” In the process, Negus examines all Hoffmann’s major, and many of the minor, literary works, with a view to laying a critical foundation for his narrative art. The book includes a select bibliography and an index.Passage, Charles E. The Russian Hoffmannists. The Hague: Mouton, 1963. Intended for readers interested in comparative literature, this study focuses on the significance of Hoffmann’s work for Russian literature. Among the authors examined at length are Nikolai Gogol and Fyodor Dostoevski. Passage attempts to show real areas of influence and correct claims of influence where none exists. The appendices include a helpful listing of Hoffman’s works with the original publication dates (even of individual stories when published elsewhere before appearing in a collection), a chronology, and a parallel listing of Hoffmann’s work in relation to works of Russian Hoffmannists.
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